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Self Advocates Keep Busy Schedule this Summer


AIM End of Year Party at the Lowell Spinners!

Saturday, June 21st

3:15pm @ LeLacheur Park, Lowell

RSVP to [email protected]

See invitation here


SAAC June Social: Scavenger Hunt and Picnic

Sunday, June 29th

11am - 1pm @ Houghton's Pond Recreation Area, Milton

RSVP to [email protected]

See invitation here


Summer Watersports Adventure for self-advocates ages 13+

Hosted by our friends from AccesSportAmerica


Calling all adventurous athletes for a 75-minute session of windsurfing, stand-up paddling, and Hawaiian Outrigger Canoeing (with 1-to-1 supports)

Friday, June 27th

Mass. Hospital School, Canton

LIMITED SPOTS AVAILABLE. Paperwork required. Contact Colleen at [email protected] to find out more and register.

Would you like to be a First Call Parent?


The Parents First Call program is grateful for the 50 parent volunteers who make this program so successful!

In the words of a new family:


"The visit was awesome. It was helpful to hear their stories and experiences with their child the past few years. And, it was super encouraging to see that they are just as 'normal' as can be in terms of going about day-to-day activities, work, play and all of that good stuff. They are super down to earth, which is great. We'll keep in touch and setup play dates in the future!  Thanks again for the connection!"


Sarah Cullen, our Family Support Director, is looking for parents of children who are 8 or younger who might be interested in being a First Call parent. We have a special interest in finding parents who:


  Live in Boston/Greater Boston area


  Culturally diverse

  Received a prenatal diagnosis


If you are interested, please contact Sarah directly at [email protected] or by calling (781) 221-0024, ext. 206 to discuss the program requirements and training.


YOU can make an incredible difference in the lives of other families!

Welcoming New Parents to our Social Events 


Families of children with Down syndrome three years old and younger, as well as expectant families, are warmly invited to our New Parent Socials!


Join the MDSC staff and other new families for an informal get-together with light refreshments! Come meet other families and learn more about the MDSC and helpful resources. Upcoming dates include:

  • Saturday, July 12 
  • Saturday, September 16
  • Saturday, November 1

Time: 10 a.m. to Noon

Location: MDSC, 20 Burlington Mall Road, Burlington, MA

(our driveway is directly across from the Burlington Marriott)

Join us in the lower level conference room


RSVP to Sarah Cullen at [email protected] or 781-221-0024 x206


Spring has sprung everyone is busy with lots of outdoor activities as we head into the summer!


We, at the MDSC, are reaching out to ask you to help us expand our support for families of school-aged children (3-22).  Many of you indicated in our 2013 membership survey that you would like more support and resources for  families of school aged children. It is because of this feedback that we are reaching out to you today. 


As family members of children with Down syndrome,  you all have so much information and support to give based upon your individual experiences.  Many new MDSC families can benefit from your experience with local programs and resources that your family has found beneficial. 


Our first step is to ask you to participate in this survey to share your knowledge about the most helpful resources in your community. Please take a few minutes to connect to this Survey Monkey link and provide us with any insight or information that will help us strengthen our database of resources for other members.


We appreciate the time that it takes to complete a survey. We are confident that the information you provide will go a long way towards developing a comprehensive database of information and programming for you and other families.  Thanks so much for participating!


Best Regards,



Mo Blazejewski

Education Director

Visit MDSC's YouTube Channel for Free Access
If you weren't able to join our series of Educational Webinars live, no worries. All members can access the recordings on our YouTube page at no cost. There you can get information about the following topics:


Working Effectively With Your IEP Team - A Special Educator's Perspective

In this presentation, parents will hear the perspective of an experienced special education teacher about issues and questions that are commonly asked by families as they journey through the IEP development process and advocacy for their children.  Some topics to be discussed are related to the importance of crafting a powerful vision statement, supporting difficult behaviors, and advocating for effective home-school communication.

How to Work Effectively With Your IEP Team: An MDSC Education Webinar 

MCAS-ALT - Demystifying the Portfolio

In this presentation, parents will learn about the process that a school based team goes through in order to create a student's alternate assessment portfolio.  We will look at the specific guidelines related to the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks (Incorporating the Common Core Standards) and discuss how an assessment portfolio differs from a progress portfolio in the classroom. 

MCAS-Alt: Demystifying the Portfolio - An MDSC Education Webinar 


How to Plan NOW for Smiles in September - Springtime Strategies to Support a Smooth Fall Transition

Birds are chirping, trees are budding, flowers are blooming - and parents and teachers are ALREADY starting to think about September! Springtime means more than getting ready for summer - it's the time to reflect upon the past school year and plan for the year ahead.  This often means spring Annual Reviews for IEP's, but just as important is the plan for preparing children for their transition to the next grade.  


While there is no specific "formula for success" to make this happen with no bumps in the road,  there are several low-effort/high-leverage strategies that you and your team can implement in order to make this big transition go a little more smoothly.


Regional Offerings for 2014-2015 School Year
Parents are well-aware of their role as an advocate for their child as they enter school.  However, any parent, even seasoned educators, will admit that the job is certainly not an easy one.  Going to IEP meetings can be intimidating.  Interpreting test scores and educational jargon can be overwhelming.  Even reviewing a proposed IEP can feel like a monumental task. 

Starting this fall, MDSC's Education Director, Mo Blazejewski, will be conducting regional workshops entitled, "Strengthening Your Voice on Your Child's IEP Team".  This workshop is designed to encourage participants to network and connect with other families in their region as a way of building a local support network of families who have shared interests and experiences.   In addition, we will talk about strategies to support more effective communication between parents and the IEP team. 


Workshops will be scheduled in the following regions



Tuesday, September 23, 2014 7-9 PM

Haverhill Public Library

99 Main Street

Haverhill, MA 01830



Tuesday, September 30, 2014 7-9 PM

Duxbury Free Public Library

77 Alden Street

Duxbury, MA 02332



Wednesday, October 1, 2014 6:00-7:30 PM

Fitchburg Public Library

610 Main Street

Fitchburg, MA 01420



Tuesday October 7, 2014 6:00-7:30 PM

Boston Public Library

Fields Corner Branch

1520 Dorchester Ave.

Dorchester, MA 02122



Thursday October 23, 2014 6:00-7:30 PM

Brightwood Branch Public Library

359 Plainfield Street

Springfield, MA 01107


Year-Long Collaboration with Learning Program
   mdsc logo transparent 

The Learning Program Boston and The Massachusetts Down Syndrome Congress are pleased  to offer a 6-part series of Down Syndrome Early Educational Workshops that will be hands-on, interactive and build upon each other in succession


This is for parents and caregivers of children with Down syndrome between the ages of 3-5 who are just beginning to show an interest in letters and numbers


Wednesday, Oct 8 - Understanding the Cognitive Profile & Expanding Vocabulary

Wednesday, Nov 5 - Teaching Whole Words

Wednesday, Dec 3 - Effective Teaching Sessions

Wednesday, Mar 4 - Review of Match, Select, Name/Working with Your IEP Team

Wednesday, Apr 1 - Colors & Shapes

Wednesday, May 6 - Pre-Number Concepts


Time: 7:00-8:30 p.m.

Location: MDSC's offices at 20 Burlington Mall Road, Burlington, MA

Participants should plan to attend all 6 workshops for an optimal learning experience

Fee: $350 per family- participants will be provided with all the information, tools and materials they will need to follow-through at home in-between sessions (A limited number of financial scholarships will be made available)


For more information and to register, please contact Julie Messina, Learning Program Director at [email protected]


We are pleased to announce that our long-awaited education manual, titled "Meaningful Inclusion for Students with Down Syndrome - A Resource Guide for Elementary Educators", is heading to print and we anticipate copies becoming available for members over the summer. Stay connected for updates!
 Massachusetts Down Syndrome Congress

10th Annual Educator's Forum

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

College of the Holy Cross

Worcester, MA 

More Details Coming Soon! 



One Family's Story About Special Needs Adoption
by Andrea Cole


Our family is like many of yours: we have two sons, JJ, who is 5 and has Down Syndrome, and Gabriel, who is 7.  We go to Morning Travelers to meet other families like ours, we take JJ to Children's Hospital DS Clinic, and to Boston Ballet's Adaptive Dance program, an attend the Buddy Walk. We are also in the excellent First Call program, and love the opportunity to meet and talk with prospective parents.  We are so proud of JJ, and want to share that with new families.  


Our family became interested in special needs adoption through the down syndrome community and Reese's Rainbow and  Once we went on Reese's Rainbow, and started to learn about the compelling stories of the many children in Eastern Europe - who will never be adopted simply because of their special needs -we realized that we wanted to grow our family through adoption.  We started the adoption process a year ago in Chuvasia, Russia, where we attempted to adopt a beautiful 4 year old girl with medical issues.  After meeting her, we were crushed when we learned that adoptions were closed to Americans. We waited several months for things to resolve, and we sadly learned that Russia had no plans to re-open international adoptions.  We then began pursuing adopting in the neighboring country, Ukraine.  


Last September we met our daughter, Kristina, in Slovansk, Ukraine, and knew our journey was over. Kristina has many complex needs, and would never have been adopted in her own country.  The reasons why children with special needs are not adopted are complex: lack of resources, services, comprehension about how well children with special needs can do, and just general ignorance. 


Kristina has been home for nearly four months, and is flourishing. She is a lovely, energetic, curious girl who delights in life.  Our family can't recommend special needs adoption enough, and would welcome the opportunity to answer any questions you may have.  Research is a huge part of the process, and we urge you to read the many articles available in places like: and, which talk about the issues that parents may face with special needs adoption.  


Note: Please feel free to email Andrea Cole with any questions at [email protected]

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